Could all music journalism soon be reduced to the length of a tweet? Cormac Duffy looks at Spin’s revelatory Twitter reviews.
Let’s presume we’ve answered the “Does music need to be written about?” question with a yes. If you disagree yet you’re reading this column, it’s clear that you have very niche masochistic tendencies. More power to you, I suppose. Now here’s the next question; how much should be written about it? Do albums deserve full books expounding on their virtues and critiquing their flaws (As the 33 1/3 series has done brilliantly) or can it be done in something a short as a tweet?
Spin magazine has removed the reviews section from its print edition to focus on a limited amount of online reviews, with most of its reviews now being done in the form of tweets from @SpinReviews. This marks the point where Twitter threatens to do to music journalism what it’s done to other forms of writing; forcing a norm of short, to-the-point sentences straight from a Hemingway fan’s wet dream.
The scheme is the brainchild of Spin’s new editor Chris R. Weingarten, who is a firm believer that if it can’t be said in 140 characters, it isn’t worth saying. He even put his proverbial money where his literal mouth was, and in 2009, tweeted 1000 album reviews, a feat worthy of Atlas, were Atlas a laptop radiated uber-nerd.
While it could be a marketing gimmick for a publication that’s the equivalent of that odd uncle you have that still thinks he’s “down with the kids”, maybe there is sense to it. As far as I’m concerned, the average music website seems to cover more content than the average person could in fact listen to without being some sort of socially isolated hipster Unabomber.
A casual listen to a few samples from the unending glut of mixtapes, landfill indie and retro-maniacal flashes in the buzz pan reveals a fairly dirty secret; most of it is not worth writing that much about. If you’re going to cover bands that can be easily summed up in a short list of references, why allocate them any more than they need?
Maybe it’s the job of music to warrant some ink being spilled about it, as it does more often than not. As nice as tweet reviews seem, I’ve yet to see someone argue the case that they could capture the sheer significance of something like Revolver or Discreet Music in such a condensed manner. Maybe I just hate to think my fortnightly ramblings would be better reduced to 140 character snippets like, “My thoughts on Spin’s tweet reviews? Coping mechanism for oversupply, unable to tackle greatness. Possibly a gimmick. 7/10.” I’ll hand it to them; it certainly is a lot less work.